On September 10, 10 famous Henan dishes and 10 theme banquets were selected into the List of Provincial Classic Dishes in China. The famous Henan dishes like Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style, Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion, and Yellow River Carp were once again presented to the food lovers throughout the country. As a foodie drooling over these famous dishes, have you ever thought that there are various food cultures behind them. As a traditional culture of the Chinese nation, what's the stories behind the Henan cuisine? Let’s find them out together.
Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style
Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style
Chinese people are very familiar with roast duck, especially "Beijing Roast Duck".In fact, Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style is the source of the Chinese roast duck. Just like every school has a secret art, Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style represents the food style of the Central Plains.
Dun Yusong, founder of the Yufeng roast duck brand, told the reporter that the roast duck originated in the Northern Song Dynasty while the Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style had already appeared as early as the 10th century AD. The Eastern Capital: A Dream of Splendor also has records of “roast duck”. With the change of dynasties, the cooking skills of the Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style was introduced to Nanjing and Hangzhou with the Song Dynasty’s migrant to the south. According to the History of Yuan Dynasty, after Lin’an (capital of the Southern Song Dynasty) was occupied by Yuan soldiers, Bo Yan, general of the Yuan Dynasty, introduced “hundred craftsmanship” in Lin’an to its capital which is today’s Beijing. The skill of roast duck was then introduced to Beijing at that time.
With the development of times, how is the Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style made in today’s Henan Province? It uses date woods from Xinzheng for fuel, which (the skill) has a history of more than 1,000 years. Then, the grease and oil will be removed under a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius. Finally, the duck will be roasted for 45 minutes with coals at 270 degrees Celsius. Based on the historical data and old artists, Yufeng Delicious Food has proposed a 13-step cooking method so as to restore the traditional skills of making Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style as far as possible.
Braised Yellow River Carp
Yellow River Carp (Covered with Baked Noodles, Braised, or Steamed)
Yellow River Carp is not only a speciality of Henan Province, but also a famous “business card” of Kaifeng Youyixin Restaurant, Awu Yellow River Carp Restaurant, and Zhengzhou Yufengyuan Restaurant.
Carp has always been revered as the "chief of all fishes" in China. The Northern Song Dynasty also served carp as the "best among all dishes." The carp in the Yellow River is called "Golden Carp of the Yellow River" for its uniqueness. According to the ancient documents, “The Yellow River carp in Henan Province is fresh, fat and tender, which can be seen as delicacies.” In Kaifeng and even the whole Central Plains, a well-known dish called “Braised Yellow River Carp Covered with Baked Noodles” once became the "best among all dishes."
During the transition from the Northern Song Dynasty to the Southern Song Dynasty, a large number of residents followed the royal family to Hangzhou from Kaifeng, becoming “Zhejiang drifters” at that time. As the environment changes, so do the ingredients. The Yellow River carp is sweet while the West Lake carp's muddy flavor is heavier, so it was then changed to the grass fish. Southerners do not like sweet taste in fish, so it was changed again. With many changes, another famous dish was finally created, called West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy.
The cooking method that is more familiar to the people in Henan Province is called “braised carp with baked noodles.” The baked noodles is also called the fine noodles. The tender and delicious carp with red color, together with the fluffy and crispy baked noodles, does reflect the efforts that our ancestors in Henan Province have made concerning diet.
Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion
Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion
If the Roast Duck in Kaifeng Style and the Yellow River Carp symbolize Henan’s traditional dishes, then the Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion must be the representative of its new dishes. It not only caught the trend of today’s food market, but also grasped the tastes of the masses quickly and accurately. So, the standing dish of Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion has quickly become a representative of the high-end cuisine market in Henan Province.
The Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion is a signature dish of Lu Ban Zhang (a restaurant). According to the introduction, the sea cucumbers that are used are wild ones from the high latitudes in the northern hemisphere. These wild sea cucumbers are not only large and fleshy, but also rich in nutrients with better tastes. The scallions that are used come from Zhangqiu, Shandong Province, with longer stalk and little spicy. In the Ming dynasty, the scallion of Zhangqiu was already named as "Scallion King" by the royal family.
The Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion cooked in this way is bright in color with scallion fragrance. By the way, you may want a bowl of rice to go with it, which is very delicious.
Luoyang Water Banquet
Luoyang Water Banquet also occupies a place in the top 10 theme banquets, making the banquet representing Henan Province more known to the world. In fact, Luoyang Water Banquet has been a synonym for Henan cuisine, to some extent.
It is reported that the authentic Luoyang Water Banquet consists of 24 dishes, including 8 cold dishes, 4 big dishes, 8 smaller dishes, and 4 end dishes. The serving order also has its custom. At the beginning, 8 cold dishes are served as accompaniments to drinks. After three drinks, hot dishes are served: 4 big hot dishes are served firstly, and each big dish is followed by 2 smaller dishes as side dishes, which is called “going to empire court with sons”. At last, 4 end dishes are served, including an egg soup, also known as the Farewell Soup, indicating all dishes have been served.
From the perspective of the local people of Luoyang, Water Banquet is the best with the highest level among all banquets. As a traditional diet, the Luoyang Water Banquet, the peony festival and the Longmen Grottoes are called Three Wonders of Luoyang.